Effects of the transmissibility and virulence of pathogens on intraguild predation in fragmented landscapes
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It is well known that pathogenic infection can have a profound effect on the outcome of competition and predation, however the role of pathogenic infection in systems where predators and prey also compete for other resources is yet to be explored (i.e. in systems of intraguild predation). Using a cellular automaton model, we here explore the effect of pathogenic infection on the spatial dynamics of species that also engage in intraguild predation (IGP) in a fragmented landscape. First, the shared pathogen by the predator and prey can enhance species coexistence in the IGP system, consistent with results for non-spatial IGP systems. Second, equilibrium population sizes of the predator and prey depend crucially on the pathogen virulence to the predator but are insensitive to the change in the virulence to the prey. This asymmetric response to virulence change is due to the fact that the predator species has to juggle between predation, resource competition and pathogenic infection. Finally, the response of the pathogen to habitat fragmentation is largely determined by its life-history strategy (transmissibility and virulence) and the trophic level of its host. These results enrich our understanding on the role of pathogens in the ecosystem functioning of eco-epidemiological systems.
- RESEARCH: Hui C